The deck is nearly mono-G, only splashing U for a few useful cards on this theme. It certainly doesn't play like most U-containing Commander decks, and doesn't take full advantage of U's strengths, besides some card draw. With that in mind:
This deck is NOT for you if:
- you like to have an answer for everything;
- you like to control the stack;
- you like to win by combo;
- you like to win consistently.
This deck might be for you if:
- you like big, splashy plays;
- you like to come from behind, or come out of nowhere;
- you don't care if your deck isn't particularly consistent;
- you let others deal with threats, and would rather do your own thing to some extent (e.g. build a huge army and swing for the win);
- you like to turn creatures sideways (attack Attack ATTACK).
That said, there are a few cute interactions in the deck. I've highlighted several in the "spoilers", below.
After developing a pretty intense Sliver Overlord toolbox deck (which focuses on stealing creatures and having a toolbox of answers, with several Sliver Queen combos through which to win) and a Rafiq "voltron" deck specifically for 1-on-1, I decided I needed something that plays "fair" and is both fun to pilot and to play against in multiplayer games. I always play to win, but this deck isn't meant to be as cutthroat as my other decks, and is for playing against other less competitive decks (e.g. the Commander pre-cons, other slow decks with high CMC "big splashy plays", etc) where my budget-ignoring Sliver deck wouldn't be appropriate.
It started off as a squirrel deck (at one time, I was even considering getting my commander altered to "Edric, Squirrelmaster of Trest"). In addition to including nearly every squirrel card in Magic (including the old Might of Oaks art), it was originally based on two infinite combos: Earthcraft + Squirrel Nest, and Intruder Alarm + Druid's Call + Stuffy Doll. Unfortunately, these combos rely on two enchantments each, and U/ doesn't provide tutors for enchantments, so these combos are pretty unreliable in a U/ deck (would be much stronger in Bant, and I already have a Bant deck). I found that the latter combo was particularly bad in this deck, since the only creature we want to put Druid's Call on is Stuffy Doll, and we never want to cast Intruder Alarm unless we have both of the other two pieces - otherwise, it's likely to backfire. Since these cards are "dead draws" for most of the game, I decided to cut them for more token producers - but kept the Squirrel Nest / Earthcraft combo. In my opinion, every deck should have a way to win the game outright if it lasts long enough.
After some testing, I developed the deck into "Edric's Circus", a zoo of over 15 different types of creature tokens. The goals of the deck are to: (a) generate tremendous numbers of tokens in surprisingly few turns, and (b) draw tremendous numbers of cards... so that we can generate tremendous numbers of tokens... so that we can draw tremendous numbers of cards...
Another massive token doubler is Rite of Replication. Kick it on Terastodon to remove 15 lands from the game (not to mention giving yourself 5x 9/9 monsters), or kick it on Hornet Queen for 25 more flyers with deathtouch. Or it can be cast on an opponent's commander for straightforward removal. I've even used it on Dryad Arbor when I've been desperate for (green) land.
Followed Footsteps is similar, giving you a copy of a creature (presumably with an EtB effect) on each of your upkeeps. Keep in mind it's easy to get 2-for-1'ed with this one - and it will certainly paint a huge target on the head of your enchanted creature.
The recent FTV: Legends set added a creature that makes our army virtually unblockable (Sun Quan, Lord of Wu), which is awesome considering our commander is Edric, Spymaster of Trest. Otherwise, Dolmen Gate lets us attack an opponent with large numbers of low-toughness creatures without worrying about them dying in combat.
This deck is more about generating threats and board presence than having answers to others. An obvious issue with a token deck is dealing with sweepers. This deck is susceptible, but has a couple of ways to deal. For one, it can simply generate tokens so quickly that it can often just put a new army on the battlefield. Some of the token generators have flashback (Acorn Harvest, Chatter of the Squirrel), and Parallel Evolution can also flashback to double your token count. There are also "staple" recursion cards including Eternal Witness (see "synergy" spoiler) and Academy Ruins. And there is one counterspell: Mystic Snake (see "synergy" spoiler).
A recent addition is Spawning Pit. It's a sac outlet that lets you recover at least half your army in the form of 2/2 Spawn tokens. With Parallel Lives or Rings of Brighthearth, we can get the whole army back; with Doubling Season, we get twice the army! Combine any of those, and we can end up with a lot more Spawn than our opponents bargained for.
Another thing you can do with Cloudstone Curio (or Crystal Shard) is give yourself exclusive benefits of Edric's ability. Simply use a mana dork to cast Edric during your first main phase, bouncing the mana dork. Then attack with your army. Then cast the mana dork during your second main phase, bouncing Edric to your hand. Repeat next turn. If you have enough mana, instead of bouncing/recasting a mana dork, do it with something like Terastodon or Eternal Witness or Hornet Queen instead.
Another good target for bouncing is Deranged Hermit. Cast her during first main phase, attack with your 2/2 squirrels (at least, the ones without summoning sickness), then cast another creature during second main phase to bounce her so you don't have to pay the echo fee next turn. Instead, you get another 4 squirrels for your 3GG, in addition to having the "squirrel lord" in play during your attack phase.
If you opt to sideboard-in the Stuffy Doll, Druid's Call, Intruder Alarm combo, you'll notice that when assembled, it allows you to instantly kill one opponent while generating an infinite horde of squirrels. If you don't have Akroma's Memorial, this is often followed by another opponent sweeping the board, and now you have a useless Stuffy Doll since it's target no longer exists. With Cloudstone Curio, you can play an enchantment to bounce Druid's Call, then play a (non-artifact) creature to bounce Stuffy Doll. Then you can play them again, naming a different opponent for Stuffy Doll's ability.
Another less-obvious tutor is Elvish Harbinger. It's a mana dork that also puts an elf on top of the deck. Why an elf? Well, there are more elves in this deck than are obvious at first glance. Here's the complete list:
I recently took Mystical Tutor out. I found that the only "good" targets it had were Rite of Replication, Praetor's Counsel, and Parallel Evolution... and those cards are only useful late in the game - and crazy good when I do draw into them. If you want more consistent wins, by all means: run Mystical Tutor. Personally, I wanted more utility cards and individual token producers, and drawing into those potential game-changers is more rewarding to me than tutoring them up. Ymmv.
The primary goal of the deck is to attack with an army of small, efficient creatures to draw cards via Edric's ability, rinse, and repeat. When that fails (e.g. Edric gets tucked, or our opponents find a way to keep our army insignificant), there are a few other ways to keep going. Consecrated Sphinx is a "staple" and needs no further introduction. Thought Reflection should be a "staple" for similar reasons, although its CMC is quite high. Garruk, Primal Hunter can draw 3+ cards (and pumps out a lot of tokens). Skullclamp can quickly turn a few 1/1 tokens into a lot of cards. Distant Melody is sitting in the sideboard at the moment, but is the first card I'd add if I had a free slot. Most token generators will drop 4+ copies of a creature, so Distant Melody will always perform well.
Once the cards start coming in, it's important to get Reliquary Tower or Venser's Journal in play so we don't have to discard too many cards. If we are forced to discard down to 7 a few times, the next thing we'd like to cast is Praetor's Counsel, as it recovers those cards and is a permanent effect if it resolves.
Another reason to have "unlimited hand size" is to benefit Overbeing of Myth. It's our biggest single-creature threat, and it too helps draw more cards. Lorescale Coatl is similar, but I dropped it in favour of more token producers ("quantity over quality"?).
A lot of Commander "staples" are excluded from this deck. One reason is I didn't think they were needed. For example, this deck doesn't rely on protecting its commander. Edric only gets cast when we're ready to attack with an army, and it doesn't really matter if he gets killed. Thus, no Lightning Greaves, Whispersilk Cloak, Swiftfoot Boots, Champion's Helm, etc.
Next, fixing draws by digging ~ 3 cards deep isn't really necessary when you're going to be drawing > 3 cards per turn; hence no Sensei's Divining Top, Mirri's Guile, Sylvan Library, etc. I did put a Scroll Rack in the sideboard because it's possible to accidentally mill yourself with this deck. Most of the draw effects are "may", but you might suddenly find yourself with only ~ 10 cards left in your library, but 20+ in your hand. At that point, you could use Scroll Rack to swap those numbers. So far, it hasn't been an issue. Besides, if it becomes a problem, it might be better to run Elixir of Immortality et al instead. Right now, the only card that prevents milling is Primal Command - but I'd usually use that effect against a reanimator deck.
No problem. No creatures on board... so I cast Garruk, Primal Hunter; he came in with 6 loyalty, so I chose his ultimate. I had 7 lands, so I got 14x 6/6 green wurm creatures (thanks to Doubling Season)... and 2x 2/2 wolves (thanks to Fable of Wolf and Owl). I passed the turn. The very next player then cast Phyrexian Rebirth... wiping out my creatures and giving himself a 16/16 horror! Doh!
When it came back to my turn, I cast Hornet Queen (for the second time in the game; hence the Eternal Witness, above); The 2/2 queen came into play with 8x 1/1 green flying insects with deathtouch and another 2x wolves. I passed the turn. When it came back to the mono-B player who had cast Damnation earlier, this time he cast Massacre Wurm... to wipe out my army and punch me in the face for 22 life. Doh!
Later in the game, I was down to 9 life. On my previous turn, I drew Venser's Journal and was able to put 20 creatures in play (including wolves and owls; highest toughness among them was 2). I was planning to play Venser's Journal and Edric this turn; then I could swing with my army to draw a massive number of cards, and would gain a pile of life on a future upkeep. But before I got the chance, The Mimeoplasm player across from me cast Rise from the Grave... on the mono-B player's Massacre Wurm... punching me in the face for 40 damage!
Another game report with this deck (which I've been continually tweaking):
It was a 3-player game. I hadn't done much of anything all game, but on my previous turn, I played Mana Reflection with Fable of Wolf and Owl out, and then cast Edric, Spymaster of Trest to encourage my opponents to attack each other (rather than me), giving me two 2/2 wolves and a 1/1 flying bird token. Sure enough my opponents did battle it out, and on the last turn before mine, the Sharuum artifact deck's controller was able to kill the other player.
My next turn... was EXPLOSIVE! I started with Eldrazi Monument (opponent groans), then cast Murkfiend Liege (and gained another wolf and bird token). That's +2/+2 to each of my wolves and owls, and +3/+3 to Edric... and they're all flying and indestructible. Then... Parallel Evolution - putting another wolf on the battlefield before doubling all of my tokens. I swung, and my artifact-y opponent had no flyers to block with. Then during his upkeep, I untapped all my tokens thanks to Murkfiend Liege.
He played everything he could, sacrificed most of his (non-flying) creatures via Skullclamp to dig for more answers, and with 15+ cards still in hand, finally said "go... and I scoop" before I had a chance to finish saying "I flashback Parallel Evolution to double my army before swinging for lethal."
In another game, I discovered a particularly crazy series of plays from seemingly innocent cards. It's a MANY card combo, but goes to show you what a board state might look like with this deck.
Tap the Squirrel Nested Forest (henceforth simply "Squirrel Nest") to put a 1/1 Squirrel token (1) in play. Then tap an Island and Deserted Temple to untap Squirrel Nest and tap it again for a Squirrel token (2). Then tap Argothian Elder to untap Squirrel Nest and Deserted Temple. Tap Squirrel Nest for a Squirrel token (3), then a forest + Deserted Temple to untap Squirrel Nest before tapping it for (4) Squirrel token. Then tap another forest + Wirewood Lodge to untap Argothan Elder before tapping it to untap Squirrel Nest and Deserted Temple again. Repeat to get Squirrel tokens (5-8). That's 8 Squirrel tokens in one turn without playing a card!
*edit* And with a Murkfiend Liege in play, you can repeat part of that combo (minus parts requiring mana) on each opponents' upkeep (untapping Argothian Elder to untap Squirrel Nest + Deserted Temple to get a Squirrel token; next opponent's upkeep, untap Argothian Elder again to untap Squirrel Nest + a basic land, and now you can get 2 Squirrel tokens via Deserted Temple; that's 3 more tokens for every 2 opponents).
Of course, Earthcraft is "easy mode" (and infinite), but everybody sees that one coming as soon as it hits the battlefield.
*edit to the edit* With Murkfiend Liege in a multiplayer game, I realized it's better to use Argothian Elder to untap Squirrel Nest + Wirewood Lodge; then next opponent's upkeep, use Argothian Elder to untap Squirrel Nest + a basic land, then use the basic land + Wirewood Lodge to untap Argothian Elder again, use it on Squirrel Nest + Wirewood Lodge. That way, you get 1 token for the first opponent, and 2 tokens for each additional opponent.